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Alzheimer’s Association appoints leadership board

Alz Lisa Beilstein Alz Nancy Bercaw Alz mary gleason Alz Tammy Johnson Alz christian Pinillos Alz lori smith

By Jess Wisloski

Observer staff

The Williston-based Alzheimer’s Association is expanding its reach, and with that, announced the appointment of its first ever leadership board last month.

The move marks a major shift for the organization, Development Director Jane Mitchell said, in that it signals a readiness to expand outreach and go beyond the yearly Walk to End Alzheimers as a main source for fundraising.

“The Vermont chapter became a national chapter five years ago,” said Mitchell, which meant that they were absorbed into the bigger organization and relied upon the national group’s board of directors. Their office systems, marketing and human resources needs are met via their affiliation with the national entity. “It allows us to be a small chapter with boots on the ground, in terms of outreach and education,” she said.

But after expanding outreach over the past year, broadening the reach of their work by educating specialists in towns all over the state of Vermont to do more localized awareness initiatives, Mitchell said it became clear they were ready to do more.

The new group, called a Leadership Board, is made up of seven local community members, most of whom have already worked with the organization or if not, who have a personal connection with the mission of the Alzheimer’s Association. The new members will help promote awareness of the organization’s main mission: to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research, provide support and care for all those affected and to reduce the risk of dementia by promoting brain health.

The new board members include Rob Backlund of Burlington, owner and crafter of The UnSQuare Crafter; Chair Lisa Beilstein of Burlington, owner of Transition and Change Partners; Nancy Stearns Bercaw of Ferrisburg, author of “Brain in a Jar: A Daughter’s Journey through Her Father’s Memory,” and a new memoir, “Tanked”; Mary Gleason of South Burlington, the community banking officer for Northfield Savings Bank; Tammy Johnson of Milton, advertising director for FreePressMedia; Christian Pinnillo of Burlington, events and marketing manager of Vermont Cares; and Lori Smith of Shelburne, owner of FIS Consulting.

For the chair, Beilstein, her involvement was prompted by her 18 years of experience caring for her mother with Alzheimer’s.

“I came to understand how critical the time, talent and resource of those at the Alzheimer’s Association are when you or a loved one is facing a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease,” said Beilstein, in a release. The group’s focus extends beyond the goal to “assist individuals living with dementia or those caring for them. Investing in cutting-edge research and advocating for public policy change are also major tenets of our mission and I am honored to be a small part of this important work.”